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Thread: Flatting a No. 8 hand plane

  1. #1

    Flatting a No. 8 hand plane

    Just got ahold of an old Stanley No. 8. Was looking into how to get it up to shape and I'm not sure what to do about flatting the sole. I know most situations can use a sheet of glass or a granite slab. But with the sole being 24 inches long, and the world on lockdown because of COVID I was wondering if anyone has any other easy to find flat surface solutions out there? I hear that a No. 8 doesn't have to be SUPER flat so I was thinking possibly a length of shelf melamine might be useable, but im afraid of there being any bend in it.

    Thoughts?

  2. #2
    Join Date
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    Does it NEED to be flattened? Not all old planes need to be, you know.
    Sharpen it up and use it, and then decide if it needs anything.
    Rick W

  3. #3
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    i really doubt IF there is any "bend" to it...place a level on the sole...there are 3 place that need to touch the level...the front end ( toe) the area around the mouth opening, and the heel ( stern/ rear end) everywhere else can be a gap, and not hurt a thing,

    try this, and see how it looks. Soles like this do not "bend', they will crack and break. Plus, any flattening near the opening of the mouth...that is very, very thin, there, and prone to snapping out.

    Test for flat first...may be surprised. Then sharpen it up, wax the sole a bit, and give it a try out. A No. 8 is NOT a smoothing plane.
    Tool Cabinet build, two jointers.JPG
    But, it works very nicely as a Jointer.

  4. #4
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    I wanted my Bed Rock No. 607s sole to be a reference surface in my shop, particularly so I could use it to flatten my bench. Woodcraft recently put its 6 x 18 x 2 granite surface plate on deep sale, and I snapped it up after they sweetened the deal with free shipping.

    That plane is 22 long, so I was able to make the plate work the same way we flatten the back of a chisel by hanging it slightly over the edge of a waterstone and pulling it in and back out over the edge.

    I have since also acquired a Starrett 385-24 straightedge, which has confirmed the 607s sole is flat to 0.001 along the middle 90% of its length, excluding about an inch at each end. Thats sufficient for my needs.

    Why have a jointer plane if its not flat?
    Last edited by Bob Jones 5443; 04-03-2020 at 1:16 AM.

  5. #5
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    What have you seen to indicate the sole needs lapping?

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  6. #6
    Dolfo. Don't do this.
    You. Are. Gonna. Hate. Life.
    Do what the guys said - sharpen it up and see how she works first.

    I have seldom done anything as mind-numbingly boring as trying to flatten a #4 plane. It went on, and on, and on. And as others said, it probably wasn't necessary (for me or for you). I can only imagine how long it will take to do a #8.
    Last edited by Frederick Skelly; 04-03-2020 at 7:11 AM.
    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing."
    - Sir Edmund Burke

  7. #7
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    It's a big job, so in general I would advise to check the plane in use, does it work well?

    But assuming you want to flatten it, conventional lapping is not the best way to go. The sole is so large on a #8 that there is little cutting pressure on the abrasive particles and they cut very slowly. This is in addition to there being a lot more material to remove in the first place. What is not too bad a job on a typical #4 would become a multi-day Sisyphean task on a #8.

    What you would want to do is find the high spots and take those down with a small hard sanding block, say 2" square. You could also use a file or a metal scraper. You still need a flat reference surface- the 18" long granite plate Bob Jones mentioned would be good. A jointer table or tablesaw wing might work as well, but those are not guaranteed to be especially flat. Melamine is usually fairly flat, but you need to check it. If you don't have a straightedge to check, you can use a handplane to match plane two (or even better, three) sticks and compare them to each other until there is no light seen between.

    Once you have a reference surface, you can find the high spots either by coating the surface with a thin layer of dykem or similar and rubbing the plane, or by sticking down some coarse sandpaper and taking a few strokes. The areas where the paper scratched will be the high spots. Take a few passes with your sanding block/scraper/file on those high areas and then repeat. The high spots should grow a little in size and new ones may appear. Keep working down the high spots a little at a time. Once the whole surface is indicated you are as flat as your reference surface, and you can finish up the job by lapping the sole on the reference surface until you have the surface finish you desire.

    Look up videos on metal scraping to get a better idea of the process- it can be used with sanding blocks/files as well as scrapers.

  8. #8
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    Here is an exerpt from Patrick Leach's website:

    "There are a lot of folks out there who believe that these longer planes - the #6, #7, and #8 - have to be perfectly flat in order for them to work. Good luck finding one that's perfectly flat, as they don't exist, all of which is proof enough that the old timers, who depended upon these tools for their livelihood, could make effective use of them in a non-perfect state. Thing is, you can, too."

    I have seen countless videos of people lapping the soles of there planes on YouTube. I have lapped one of my planes soles, and that's because I was having issues. Otherwise I feel it's a waste of time.

    Get it sharp and use it.

    Worry about the feedback of what your workpiece is telling you. Use your square, straight edge, winding sticks, or whatever you do to check your work, and do it often.

    They didn't have CNC's in the good ol' days that manufactured stuff to extremely tight tolerances, yet we still drool over the craftsmanship of antique furniture.

    Try it for a bit, and if you have issues then worry about fixing it. But don't fix it if it isn't broken.
    Last edited by Jason Buresh; 04-03-2020 at 10:24 AM.

  9. #9
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    Only the toe, mouth and heel need to be fairly coplamar. The plane rides high spots of the material being worked. Spending time flattening the whole plane doesn't make it perform better.

  10. #10
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    Spray water on a piece of glass and lay course sandpaper on it. You will be surprised at the result. You can create a smooth surface.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by lowell holmes View Post
    Spray water on a piece of glass and lay course sandpaper on it. You will be surprised at the result. You can create a smooth surface.
    Yes, it is also very easy to turn the base of the plane in to a banana or round it side to side.

    If it ain't broke, don't fix it. (thanks Bert)

    jtk
    "A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."
    - Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Koepke View Post
    Yes, it is also very easy to turn the base of the plane in to a banana or round it side to side.

    If it ain't broke, don't fix it. (thanks Bert)

    jtk
    +1
    I ended up doing so and it took me some time to realise why.
    Other folks might disagree, but I will attest that you can't achieve a flat surface by constantly rubbing a metal item (plane sole)
    on a full length and width rough abrasive like lengths of sandpaper.

    It may be possible spreading loose abrasives in areas, but you might have to get to a good tolerance to begin with.
    Tom

  13. #13
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    Hmm...flat earthers?

    Anyway, have found the best place for feeler gauges..
    toolchest top 1.jpg
    Right in the drawer with the Ignition Wrenches.....

    save the machinist stuff for building things out of metal.....

    that #8 was designed to take out any high spots in a WOOD surface....

    3 points on the sole of any plane need to be co-planar...the rest can be a hair lower, as in a slight hollow. ...and the plane will do just fine.

    Sharpen the bleeding thing up, and get to work...

  14. #14
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    All of my hand planes are shiny flat. Jim, try it out before you dismiss it.

  15. #15
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    I have a #8 with a concave sole. One day I'll resolve it as it is not possible to do good work with it. Perhaps if the current situation changes I'll have the time.

    If you find "David Weaver" on YT, I'm sure he has a video about flattening a #7. Take a look, he understands the tools well.

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